COVID-19 Cases Increase in Virginia, Prince William County

| November 18, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

COVID-19 cases appear to be on the rise everywhere from Europe to the United States. The mid-Atlantic region, Commonwealth of Virginia and Prince William County are not exceptions. The Virginia Health Department ask that people adjust their holiday plans for travel and large gathering to prevent further spread.

COVID-19 Case in Virginia. Virginia Department of Health, graph from Nov. 17, 2020.

Virginia

In line with national trends, Virginia is experiencing a noticeable increase in COVID-19 new cases. The state saw 2,125 new cases on Nov. 17 and experienced a 7-day average of 1,398 daily new cases. Of those cases, 848 cases were within Northern Virginia Health Districts.

Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced changes to the COVID-19 regulations. As of Sunday, people could only meet in parties of 25 regardless if they gathered inside or outside. Bars, restaurants and the like had to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.

However, on Wednesday, at a press conference, Northam noted that Virginia is doing better than most other states and is 4th from the bottom in the rate of new cases.*

Statewide Virginia has seen 206,762 cumulative positive cases of COVID-19, 13,608 hospitalizations and 3,608 deaths. The VDA has discovered 1,440 incidents of outbreaks and 30,538 cases associated with those outbreaks.

According to the University of Virginia COVID-19 Model Weekly Update if the trend continues along the current projection, Virginia will reach 210,476 cases by Thanksgiving. In order to change that projection, people will have to change their activities to reduce opportunities for transmission.

Virginia Department of Health’s transmission graph for Prince William County, Nov. 17.

County-wide

As of Tuesday, 25 of 35 Virginia health districts have experienced a recent rising in the number of cases with some regions showing greater spikes than others.

Prince William County is experiencing a “slow growth” in new COVID-19 cases according to UVA and the Virginia Dept. of Health.

The graph shows cases spiking in Prince William County on Nov. 16. Tuesday, the county had a 7-day average of 108 new cases per day with 144 cases Tuesday, and 202 Monday. This is one of the highest peaks Prince William County has seen throughout the entire pandemic.

The highest peak for Prince William County followed Memorial Day weekend. Virginia saw its lowest valley on July 12, with a 7-day moving average of 34.1.Cases slightly increased in August and September, then remained constant. But cases have been rising since Oct. 2, leading cases to this week’s peak.

Cumulatively, Prince William County has had 16,123 COVID-19 positive cases, 1,052 hospitalizations related to COVID-19 and 229 deaths. Manassas City has had 2,162 cases, 133 hospitalizations and 28 deaths. Manassas Park has had 680 cases, 59 hospitalizations and 8 deaths.

Cases by Zip-code

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to vary by zip-code. More urbanized areas have a significantly high number of cases.

20136- Bristow, Manassas- 591

20155- Gainesville- 698

20169- Gainesville/Haymarket- 410

20181- Nokesville- 141

20110- Manassas City- 2,488

20111- Manassas Park- 1,699

22191- Woodbridge- 3,434

Demographics

Rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths seem to vary across ethnic groups.

“It is clear that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Virginia’s Latino population. Although Latinos make up just 10% of Virginia’s population,” writes the Virginia Dept. of Health. “Current data suggest that they account for 45% of cases, 35% of hospitalizations, and 11% of deaths.

The VDH believes however that people are not at higher risk because of race, per se, but other environmental and life-style factors.

“Health disparities between populations are not caused by a group’s race or ethnicity. They reflect societal factors like geography, access to healthcare, poverty, and racism that may disproportionately affect people of color,” said the VDH.

The department said it plans to better prepare to serve vulnerable populations in the future.

Schools

Prince William County Schools currently have its preschool and kindergarten populations back in class two days a week under a “hybrid” model. Class sizes have been smaller than expected and small class sizes allow for social distancing of six feet in most situations.

A select group of special education students have been in school four days a week since September. If the school board continues according to its plan, first grade will return to in-person learning on Dec. 1.

Fairfax County Schools was preparing to bring its pre-K and kindergarten students back in class Tuesday but decided against it just one day before, due to rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

Prince William County’s School Board meets Wednesday. On the agenda is “Health and Wellness: Supporting our Staff during the Pandemic,” and “Superintendent’s Update on the Pandemic.”

Chairman Babur Lateef has stated that his position is that students whose parents want them to be in school should have that opportunity. The board could vote to alter the current return to building schedule and even return to an all-virtual model. Transmission rates is one factor the board would consider.

And while children are less likely to have severe cases of COVID-19 the greater risk is to teachers and other staff members. Those staff members with a specific health risk may be excused from in-person instruction.

By Age

 The greatest number of Virginians testing positive for COVID-19 are in their twenties, followed by 30s and 40s. Risk of hospitalization increases for people based upon age. COVID-19 poses low risk to children.

Seniors are contracting COVID-19 at a lower rate, possibly because they are taking more precautions. As a person ages, their risk for death from COVID-19 increases.

The Virginia Region

Except for Washington, D.C. states bordering Virginia are seeing spikes in COVID-19. Cases are up 46% in Maryland and 64% in North Carolina. They have also increased in Tennessee by 57% in Kentucky and West Virginia to a lesser degree.

National Outlook

The Virginia Department of Health warns people to take extra precaution during the holidays and perhaps change their travel and gathering plans to keep themselves, their family and their communities safe and healthy.

“National and state trends are concerning as we enter the holiday season, heralding colder weather and increased travel,” said the VDH. “Unlike previous surges, which were regional and relatively short-lived, there is reason to think this latest wave will continue to run.”

VDH analysis by UVA Biocomplexity Institution found the winter weather is associated with increase in transmission rates. The VDH believes this explains “a surge” in Europe.

The department warns that travel over the holidays can accelerate transmissions. Some travel cannot be avoided such as students returning from college. However, VDA advises Virginians to mitigate risks over the holidays.

“Family and community gatherings, which we all look forward to over the holidays, are a significant source of transmission.”

It wants Virginians to act cautiously and try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Virginians should take steps now to prevent a larger surge. It is essential that all Virginias do their part to stop the spread by practicing basic prevention, following the guidance in the Forward Virginia plan, and protecting families and friends during the holidays. Virginia’s health is in our hands,” write the VDH.

*Updated information added after the Governor’s Wednesday press conference. 

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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